In a game where their offense struggled at times, the Rhode Island Rams used their defense to handle the Brown Bears 59-47 at the Ryan Center last night. Rhody finishes the non-conference portion of their schedule at 5-8 as they get set to begin Atlantic 10 play this week. Xavier Munford led all scorers with 18 points, 14 of them coming in the second half as Rhody turned an otherwise ugly offensive game around by shooting 42% from the field in the final 20 minutes. What else can we tell you? Let’s have a look:
Three Things to Feel Good About
1. Defensive Effort – A true 40-minute display of excellent D in this one as the Rams held Brown to just 14 first-half points, the lowest point total they’ve allowed in any half this season. For the game, Brown made just 16 shots en route to shooting 30% from the field and just 23.5% from three-point range. The 47 points for the Bears was also the lowest total the Rams have allowed in any game this season. Rhody’s spectacular team defense was relentless all night, and if they play like that during conference play, they’ll be in every game.
2. Rebounding – Forcing the Bears to miss a boatload of shots wouldn’t have really meant all that much if the Rams didn’t grab rebounds. But they did just that. Coming off a dismal performance in which they tallied only 17 boards, URI surpassed that total in the first half alone. Rhody finished with 48 rebounds to just 37 for the Bears, and the +11 margin was a drastic improvement from the -25 they logged versus Saint Mary’s. Ryan Brooks earned his start by leading the team with 9 rebounds, including three offensive boards in his 19 minutes of work.
3. T.J. Buchanan – We know T.J. has been battling a foot injury all season, and while his defense has always been solid, it’s taken him a bit to get into an offensive flow. It looks like he’s finally returning to 100% health, and he provided a nice spark off the bench last night. Buchanan tallied five points, six rebounds, and a pair of assists in 18 minutes – again, not earth-shattering numbers, but a solid contribution for a Rhody reserve. Oh, and he also chipped in with his usual hard-nosed on-the-ball defense.
Three Things to Be Concerned About
1. Shooting – So it wasn’t a great night from the floor for the Rams. URI shot just 32.7% from the field and 26.7% from beyond the arc as they failed to hit the 60-point mark for the 9th time this season. Rhody made just eight shots in the first half as they finished up the frame with a 25.8 shooting percentage before turning things around in the second half. Mike Powell finished the game with a 3-10 shooting performance. Alwayne Bigby was 0-4 and Mike Aaman 0-2, but there was no bigger offender than…
2. Nikola Malesevic – 0-9 from the field, 0-3 from three, and 0 points. Oh, and he also fouled out. Nik has really been trick or treat this season, putting together monster games against Norfolk State, Georgia State, and Auburn. But then he’s turned in performances like last night, the Saint Mary’s game, George Mason, and Virginia Tech. The scary part is that he wasn’t just missing jumpers last night – he was missing layups and several other easy looks. In his last two contests, Nik has shot 1-16 (6%) from the field and has scored three points TOTAL. It would be nice for him to break out like we know he can once A-10 play begins.
3. Free Throws – While the Rams shot well enough from the free-throw line down the stretch to come away with the W, but the overall numbers were not that great. Rhody shot just 61.3% from the line on the night, including 0-3 for Jordan Hare and 1-4 for Bigby. Mike Powell took a bulk of URI’s free throws (12 of the 31) and did hit nine of them, but overall, the Rams need to shoot better on the freebies if they want to continue closing out wins.
With that, non-conference play is in the books. The Rams post a 5-8 record after going 3-12 a year ago. Now it’s time to see what Rhody can do in the conference as they try to earn a berth in the Atlantic 10 tournament. March is just two short months away – things are about to get fun.